Category: Chapter 4: Life in France Part Two

Chapter 4 begins in April, 2014 when I returned back to life in France after a visit to the States for the birth of my first grandchild!

Brocante July 14th in Uzès

July 14th in Uzès

Looking back one of my first “Bastille Day” celebrations in France, not much has changed in the way we prep for July 14th in Uzès.

The carpark is filled with brocante dealers …

 

July 14th in Uzès

 

 

The partying hasn’t started … but here’s a look back at 2014. Wherever you are, party like it’s July 14th!

(Follow the Barefoot Blogger on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get in on today”s fun in Uzès)

 

Brocante Uzes, France

What’s  happening July 14th in Uzes?

I set out with my camera to see how the French celebrate in this small village.

It’s all about family, food, dancing and fireworks. This year, it was also about brocante.

A hundred or more brocante dealers showed off their best wares in the town’s parking lot — a beautiful spot overlooking the valley.

Brocante in Uzes, France

Brocante in Uzes, France

 

Uzes

China, pottery, porcelain treasures galore.

 

Uzes

Colorful wares and colorful brocante dealers.

 

uzes

El Toro for your man cave?

 

uzes

Perfect gift or the man who has everything.

 

Brocante Uzes, France

 

Uzes

Every man’s junk is someone’s treasure.

 

Cafes in town were packed with visitors, couples and families eating, drinking and enjoying their long weekend holiday.

Uzes, France July 14

 

All waiting for the music and dancing …

Uzes France July 14, 2014

And the fireworks.

firework1

 Facts about the July 14th French holiday:

1-  French don’t call the holiday “Bastille Day”?

It’s called “July 14th”, just like “July 4th” in the States. The formal name is  La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration).

2- “Storming the Bastille” was not all about freeing political prisoners.

Rebels freed four crooks and two “lunatics” and, according to Wikipedia, one “deviant” aristocrat. The Bastille was chosen as the target of the rebellion because it was a symbol of the abusive monarchy — a place stocked with weapons and ammunition.

3- The French Revolution was not the beginning of an independent French republic.

The French Revolution of 1787 is considered by historians as a major step towards establishing the concept of “independent republics.” The world saw the uprising of the people of France as an example to create their own political change;The French, however, were anything but “independent” afterward. They enduring years of terror led by Roperpeare’s government; and later, a military empire led by Napolean.  It was the Third Republic in 1870 that gave way to national elections and political parties in France.

Charles de Gaulle founded the French Fifth Republic and served as its first president from 1959 to 1969.

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Les Mardis Nocturnes D’Uzes

There’s a party going on every Tuesday night, right under my window. Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes. I’m not complaining. It’s vendors with jewelry, leather goods, wine and, of course, there are musicians.

Nothing compares with the Saturday or Wednesday markets  in Uzes. Yet these Tuesday events, clearly for tourists, have the added attraction of a nighttime ambiance in the Place des Duche.

Tuesday market at the Place de Duche, Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Zumba in Uzes

The event runs from 6-11pm and starts off with Zumba.The Zumba sessions are led by a local class and visitors are welcome to join in.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Soon the marketplace is busy with people.  By night it’s loud and filled with music and happy sounds.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

Later, musicians take center stage at the Mairie (town hall).

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

There is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Candy and nougat

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Jewelry vendors with handmade necklaces, bracelets and more

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepes made on the spot

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepe making with either Nutella or the buttery sugar variety are favorites.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Silver jewelers add initials to bracelets and necklaces

 

 

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Balloons are for kids here in France, too.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Dogs are well-behaved

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes Handmade head dresses are modeled by beautiful young women.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

 

No matter how I try to stay in on Tuesday nights, I just can’t miss  Les Mardes Nocturnes D’Uzes. Who could blame me?

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Scarves on sale blow in the summer night’s breeze.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Ruins of the city walls look over Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

For more about Uzès visit here

2014-07-27 22.11.10

“The Golden Girls” Loving Italy: Day 16-20 Nova Siri

Ever heard of Nova Siri?  Neither had I until the Golden Girls’ adventure took me to the coastal resort town in the “instep” of  Italy’s boot.

Visit Nova Siri

After 15 days of jumping from place to place in France and Italy, the Golden Girls were ready for a little rest and relaxation. As par for this journey, we picked a spot on the map because it was there and headed to Nova Siri, Italy to spend time unwinding on a beach. 

One of the Golden Girls is a double crystal, diamond-crusted, ruby slipper, 24-karat gold medallion member of a worldwide timeshare group. She suggested we try out the four-star timeshare beach resort in Nova Siri. It wasn’t her first choice, but every other place we looked was booked solid.

She had never traveled to Europe and she was so excited about finding a timeshare that I didn’t have the nerve to tell her “four-star” in Europe is not quite up to the same standards as in the US.

It didn’t really matter to me if we had luxury accommodations. My incentive was to see the “instep” of Italy’s “boot” and the Ionian Sea.

Visit Nova Siri, Italy

Getting there

Traveling to Nova Siri from Rome meant a two-hour flight to Bari, then a two-hour drive on a pretty good highway to Nova Siri.

Bari is a relatively large town on the Adriatic Sea. The population is close to 400,000. Bari gained some small degree of fame from the movie “Bridges of Madison County”. Meryl Streep’s character claimed she “came from Bari.”

We probably should have spent a little time looking around the town, but our “driver” was waiting to take us to Nova Siri.

The view along the way

Fortunately I have long legs and was given the privilege of riding in the front seat of the Audi taxi with the driver. He spoke a little English and was happy to answer my questions about his part of the world.

The geography of the Basicilata region is a mix of mountain ranges, hills and plains. While we never went directly through mountains on the way to the southern coast of the Matera province, they were ever-present on the horizon.

Visit Nova Siri

Basilicata Region, Italy Volcanic Mount Vulture in the background

The towns along the way to Nova Siri were few and far between.

Visit Nova Siri

Basilicata Region, Italy Volcanic Mount Vulture in the background

Occasionally, when there was a village in the far distance, it looked as if it was a ghost town … deserted.

Visit Nova Siri

Basilicata region of Italy

As we drove along, you could see the landscape change.Visit Nova Siri

In one area olive trees were lining both sides of the highway. While ahead, vineyards stretched as far as you could see.

Visit Nova Siri

In just a matter of minutes, and for miles and miles beyond, fields of yellow wheat were in sight; some within touching distance of the cars on the highway.

Visit Nova Siri

Akiris: A “Disneyland” on the Ionic Sea

Arriving at our destination — the Akiris Resort — Golden Girl #1 was disappointed that is was not the “four-star” quality she expected. On the other hand, all the amenities were there and the beach with the mountains in the background was magnificent.

Visit Nova Siri

Akiris Resort, Nova Siri, Italy

There was something going on all the time at Akiris. And this wasn’t the busy tourist season. 

Our accommodations were the equivalent of a 3-bedroom apartment. The rooms were large and the beds comfortable. My room had bunk beds. I slept on the top bunk … reminiscent of my college days.

There was no decoration in any of the rooms. All household items had to be purchased at the resort “market”. Nothing was provided — except towels that were like large kitchen towels.

What’s with that? Plush bath towels must be an American “thing”? Interestingly the towels we rented for the beach were plush. We ended up using them, instead, for our showers in the apartment.

We did enjoy the beach. Which is exactly why we went to Nova Siri. To relax on the beach.

 We ate great food.

Visit Nova Siri

… and learned the freshest seafood is brought to the table before cooking while it’s still wiggling. Visit Nova Siri

We enjoyed new friends. 

Like magnets, we quickly found the few Americans who were visiting the resort and we became close friends immediately. We did everything together …

… we checked out the nearby town of Nova Siri Marina…

… and lounged by one of the two swimming pools.

One friend we literally adopted. We met her the first day she arrived. She was at the resort’s dining room, sitting alone, so we invited her to join us for dinner.

Quickly we learned she is German and speaks very little English. She was on a holiday by herself, which she often does.  She had been crying all that day because the airlines had lost her baggage. She would have to retrieve them herself the next day … two-hour trip up to Bari and back.

Visit Nova Siri

After dinner we took her to our place and filled her arms with clothing and personal essentials, including a “South Carolina Girl” T-shirt. She became our new “best friend”.

Visit Nova Siri

Side Trips

Some among our group took a side trip to Matera. This “little piggy” stayed home. The day’s journey would have been interesting, but I was totally into being a lump on a beach chair.

Mel Gibson’s “Passion of Christ” was staged in Matera. He supposedly chose the town because it resembles Jerusalem. Without the tourists.

Visit Nova Siri

Matera Italy

The Golden Girls Adventure Ends Here … That’s all, Folks

At 4:00 am on the last day of our adventure, The Golden Girls were perched outside the Akiris Resort awaiting the shuttle bus to the airport in Bari. From Bari I was heading to Rome, then to Girona, Spain. The other Golden Girls were going to Paris for five days before returning to the States.

Hopefully you enjoyed our adventures as you followed us in the blog. We laughed a lot, we stretched our comfort zones, and we found you’re never too old to learn something new. Most importantly, after 25 years spent apart, we proved that The Golden Girls are truly “forever friends”.  “Veni, vidi, vici

Here’s my challenge to you:

Visit Nova Siri

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Cinque Terre

“The Golden Girls Loving Italy” Day 14-15: Rome

A visit to Rome is too overwhelming to be consumed in only a few days. It would take weeks to appreciate the breadth and depth of the city.

Like Florence, The Golden Girls were in Rome for a holiday, not a history tour. Besides, this was my fourth visit to Rome. Instead of rushing around, we concentrated on Vatican City. A visit to the Sistine Chapel was one of the Golden Girl’s objectives for traveling to Italy.

For two days, we stayed, ate and wandered around the Vatican City area. Except for going onto the papal grounds, we were mostly away from tourists. Which translates to: ‘No one spoke English.” .

We were lost most of the time, wandering around aimlessly look for a bus, a cab… the way back to the AIRBNB apartment.

Thanks to Map quest, we were OK … when and if we could get online.

Visit Rome

One thing we learned over the two days is that Romans are very considerate and helpful … except for the cabby who drove us to the Airbnb our first night in town. A ride that should have cost no more than 25 euros cost almost 70 euros.
Visit Rome

 

Ok. Give us a break. We’d just arrived by train after a full day in Cinque Terra. And it was after midnight. We were exhausted.

 

 

 

Visit Rome

 Hint #1: Don’t take a “gypsy cab”. Make certain there’s a meter in the car.

The friendly Romans were happy to help three struggling American females.

Visit RomeWe met them at the bus stop when we needed directions on using the transportation systems.

They were there for us on buses to wave us off at the right stop.

 

 

 

Cafe owners stopped in the middle of their busy morning to give us advice on getting around.

Hint #2: If you need help, ask. You will meet some charming folks.

Visit Rome

Visit Rome

People Watching at Vatican City

One Golden Girl wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. The huge crowds that were gathered in lines to visit the Chapel were enough to convince me that two visits to the Chapel were enough for a lifetime. When I learned the ceiling art had been restored and the restoration was finished, I was happy to wait in line. Seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece in its full glory was a whole new experience.

Visit Rome

Dividing light from Darkness – Sistine Chapel

Get Happy, Rome

What I particularly enjoyed that day at the Vatican City was watch people. While looking through my photos of Rome, I realized I had captured with the camera a contrast of “happy” and “not”. The video was lots of fun to make, although apologies to those I might have caught having bad moment.

Next stop: Nova Sira, Italy

Visit Rome

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Visit Cinque Terre

“The Golden Girls” Loving Italy: Day 13 Cinque Terre

Who knew “Cinque Terre” meant “five villages”? Before  heading on The Golden Girls’ adventure, I’d never heard of it.

The Golden Girls’ Cinque Terre visit started on a chartered bus from Florence. Our AIRBNB host set up the tour that was by bus, train and boat.

Since visiting Cinque Terre, I’ve learned that many friends have been there. Some have even gone between each of the villages on foot.

My hat’s off to you. We found it hard enough to be carried by bus and train.

Visit Cinque Terre

Tour bus to Cinque Terre

Visit Cinque Terre

The day we visited Cinque Terre, unfortunately, there was bad weather. A landslide in one of the villages and no ships sailing to another meant we had a full day exploring three of the villages — Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Monterossa.

Visit Cinque Terre

Map of Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore

After leaving the chartered bus in La Spezia, The Golden Girls boarded a train for Riomaggiore. Getting there on a foggy, cool day was a bit disappointing. We were hoping for sunny skies. However, the beauty of the quaint hillside village more than made up for the clouds and sprinkles of rain.

Visit Cinque Terre

Corniglia

By the time we reached Corniglia by train the clouds had lifted and the sun came out to give us an excuse to head for the beach. This was the ideal village for lounging at a seaside cafe and watching people, my favorite pastime.

Visit Cinque TerreAhh… the beer was tasty too!

Visit Cinque Terre

 Village and sea views in all directions were breath-taking.

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Visit Cinque Terre

Monterossa

Nothing prepared me for Monterossa. From the multi-colored houses to the dramatic coastal cliffs, this village is one to underline in the memory book. Interestingly, now that I have only photos to remind me, it’s hard to believe these came out of my camera. It is truly real.

Pinch me.

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Dare I forget about shopping?

Not as dazzling as the scenery in Monterossa, the local shops still put on quite a show.

How can you resist stopping to check out the retail here? Join me to look around.

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Hopefully when you visit Cinque Terre you will see all five villages. For me and The Golden Girls, perhaps another day.

Visit Cinque Terre

Visit Cinque TerreNext stop: Rome

 

 

 

 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

“The Golden Girls” Loving Italy: Day 12-13 Florence

Florence, Italy is a place you should try to see at least once in your lifetime. For “The Golden Girls”, two of us were making repeat visits. That meant this had to be a unique and fun experience for each of us to remember.

Little did we know our memorable experience would start as soon as we got there.

As you recall, Mustang Sally was left behind in Girona, Spain so that we could take the late night flight to Pisa, Italy. That meant from here on out, we were getting from place to place by plane, train, bus and cab.

“Nothing wrong with that,” you say.

Well, it depends on who you’re traveling with. You see, (1) none of The Golden Girls know north and south from east and west; (2) trying to read a map is a joke; and (3) we’re all “blonds” to the root.

We arrived at the train station in Florence from Pisa with all our luggage, bags and hats in tow. Planning to take a cab to the AIRBNB apartment, we were pleased that someone met us immediately to take us to the front of the cab stand.

But wait. It wasn’t a strong, burly cab driver.

It was a petite young girl. She quickly grabbed our bags, putting two under each arm. Pulling rolling bags with her hands, she darted about the crowded train station. Through the crowds, down the stairs, to the outside, up more stairs, and then to the cab stand. It was then that we discovered the place we landed looked very familiar. She had taken us in a circle. The cab stand was basically where we got off the train… just outside the door.

We had been duped. She just wanted to hustle us for a tip. 

Visit Florence, Italy 

Hint #1: Get your own cab at the train station in Florence.

Fortunately, the cab driver was honest and took us directly to our AIRBNB apartment — although he couldn’t take us to the door. Our building was on the street of one of the busiest marketplaces in town.- San Lorenzo. Yippee!

Visit Florence, Italy 

San Lorenzo Market

You know that’s not a problem for us. Bring it on! Shopping at our doorstep.

Even better, the apartment and the hosts were terrific. We had our own place with three bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. After our ordeal in Pisa, this was a palace.

Visit Florence, Italy 

Shopping, Eating and Walking

Two of us had seen all the museums, churches and gold-laced artwork we wanted to see on previous trips to Florence. Golden Girl #3 had no interest in the above. So we set out to make this trip memorable with everything else that Florence has to offer.

Shop ’til you drop

One of the biggest markets in Florence was at our doorstep. — San Lorenzo. Need I say more? There were leather goods everywhere. So many choices and so little space to fit purchases. Believe it or not, I bought nothing!

There were plenty of temptations. Florence is a mecca for leather, jewelry and high fashion.

Visit Florence, Italy 

People watching

Tourists were everywhere. It was easier to find someone speaking English than anywhere else we’d been. Picking out locals from visitors was no problem.

Eat often. Eat well

We had no real agenda for tours or anything else. Our meals and restaurant stops were not scheduled.

An inviting cafe surrounded by interesting sights and sounds would draw our attention and we’d pop in for a drink or a meal. We surely missed a lot of well-known and fabulous restaurants by not focusing on where to eat. However, with no car and no real schedule, mealtime was not a priority. Regardless, you can see we ate well.

A little gnocchi with aubergine and tomato here ..

Visit Florence, Italy

Gnocci with Albergine

A little fried avocado there … 

Visit Florence, Italy

 

Bruschetta as often as possible

Visit Florence, Italy

Bruschetta

Our apartment host was a chef at a local restaurant, so he gave us a few suggestions for places to eat. One was so good we returned for every meal!

Check out La Falterona

Visit Florence, Italy

Pici freschi al ragù di cinghiale – Pasta with Wild Boar Meat

 

Visit Florence, Italy

Grande piatto di verdure grigliate – Mixed grilled vegetables

Visit Florence, Italy

Carpaccio di manzo con rucola e parmigiano – Thin sliced beef with rocket salad and parmesan chesse

Hint #2: Eat where you please. It’s all good!

If there’s music, even better!

Visit Florence, Italy 

Amazing architecture

Visiting Florence, you feel like you’re walking back through history. Ornate buildings, voluptuous statues and narrow streets remind you of another time. The smallest detail on a structure has meaning and a story behind it.Like this monument on the side of a building. Its design gave rise to the tradition of encasing important religious items in glass enclosures. It was hidden away on a side street in Florence’s busy tourist area.

Shrine encased in glass

 

The Duomo is a study in art, architecture and history all in one. Perhaps you’ve never noticed this ornament at one of the entrances to the cathedral. An ancient compass.Details everywhere.

Visit Florence, Italy

Compass at the entrance to the Duomo

Hint #3: Take a tour

Visit Florence, Italy

You can find a tour that suits your interests. It’s worth the time and it gives you lots of exercise.

So you can eat more!

Visit Florence, Italy 

Cycles everywhere

Hint #4: Watch where you walk

There are bicycles and motorcycles that think they have the right-of-way. I’m not kidding. It’s a problem and a danger, but it’s all part of being in Florence.

Best of Florence

For me, the best part of returning to Florence was to share good times with good friends.

Visit Florence, Italy

 

Visit the Ponte Vecchio once more.

Visit Florence, Italy

 

And look at handsome Italian men!

Next stop: Cinque Terre

Visit Florence, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Day 9-10 Port Vendres and Collioure

Day 11 Pisa 

“The Golden Girls” Loving Italy: Day 11 Pisa

Whenever you are on an extended trip that takes you to many destinations, you’re bound to go to certain places just because they’re on the way. That’s how The Golden Girls ended up in Pisa, Italy. 

Discovering Port Vendres and Collioure because they were on the way to an airport was good luck. Stopping overnight in Pisa because we wanted to land somewhere near Cinque Terre was a mistake.

Sorry, “Pisans”. Aside from the Leaning Tower and surroundings, we didn’t find Pisa to be a great place to visit.

If you want to see the tower, and take one of those predictable “holding up the leaning tower” photos , I suggest you drive by and jump out with your camera.

Visit Pisa, Italy

Perhaps after a busy day in Collioure, a drive to the airport in Girona, dropping off Mustang Sally in an unfamiliar country, a long wait and bad food at the airport, we weren’t in the mood for what happened next.

Visit Pisa, Italy

Where not to stay
For the first time in my traveling with AirBNB, I made a mistake. In my defense, we made this part of our plan at the last-minute. So there were few–almost none– places listed for Pisa. We pretty much booked what was available.

For a twenty-something it would have been fine. For The Golden Girls, it was bleak and noisy.

To begin with, the room we booked in the “B&B” was tucked away in a scary alley in the oldest part of town. The cab driver wouldn’t even take us down the street.

Visit Pisa, Italy

After we got over our shock and disappointment with our location, we lugged our bags up the three flights of stairs to our room.

The place was stark and dreary, but clean. One double bed, one single bed, and a side table. That was it. No lamps, pictures or decoration of any type. Beds and pillows were hard, bath towels resembled large kitchen towels. It was adequate, and I repeat, it was clean. But it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for when we were so tired.

One of the good things about traveling with these friends is that they make the best of everything. Just minutes after taking in the situation, we were laughing hysterically. I think it was right after we discovered our room was on top of Pisa’s “party central” — the square where college kids meet to drink and dance. All night.

Daylight came really quickly and our surroundings didn’t look so bad. We agreed the. B&B would be a good choice for young people. There was a nice living area and kitchen. It could be fun if we were forty years younger.

 

Visit Pisa, Italy

 

 

Visit Pisa, Italy

The Leaning Tower

Close to everything” was a true description of the B&B in the AirBNB listing. Not only were we in the middle of the town’s night life, we were within walking distance of the Leaning Tower and the cathedral.

 

Visit Pisa, Italy

For some reason, I wasn’t expecting all the ornate buildings around the tower. Even though I’d done a “ride by” on the “Europe on $5 a Day” trip. The area is truly beautiful.

Taking a few more photos of the town to remind us we don’t have to come back, we were off to the train station.

Visit Pisa, Italy

Helpful hint
When you are traveling alone to a new destination, or you’re with a small group, budget enough to pay for a cab from the train station, or airport. It’s particularly advisable if it’s late in the day, and/or, you don’t speak the language. This might sound pricey, but it can mean a safer, more relaxing entre to your new location.

Next stop: Florence, Italy

Visit Pisa, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Thanks to all The Golden Girls for photo contributions to this post. 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Day 9-10 Port Vendres and Collioure

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 9-10 Port Vendres and Collioure

Revisit the seaside towns of Port Vendres and Collioure, France with me and my North Carolina friends. You may want to put these two on your “must see” list!

When “The Golden Girls” discovered Port Vendres and Collioure, the quaint towns along the Mediterranean, it was quite by accident. We were looking for an airport near Sete that had cheap flights to Italy.  With a little research, we found that the airport in Girona, Spain was only a little over an hour’s drive from Sete. It was not far from the coast, so we could drive along the Med and, hopefully, find a seaside town where we could stop overnight before taking a flight to Italy.

Collioure jumped off the map as the perfect place. The tiny village is the picture-book image of what you’d expect in this part of the world. There was only one problem: Collioure had “no room at the inn.”

Apparently Europeans know Collioure. It was packed with tourists. Not to be discouraged, we settled for the next best thing: Port Vendres, the town just a bit farther down the coast.

Visiting Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Port Vendres

We arrived in Port Vendres in the late afternoon. Having driven south from Sete, staying mostly on the “super” highway until we turned east at Perpignan.  The first town we ran into on the Mediterranean was Canet-en-Roussillon. We stopped for lunch in a Spanish restaurant, Vigatane, then pointed Sally south along the sea toward Port Vendres.

Here’s our view from the car as we went away from the restaurant and drove towards Collioure and Port Vendres.

Tired and anxious to get out of the car for the day, we passed through Collioure, then came to Port Vendres and parked Sally in the town square. Just minutes after calling our AirBNB host, to tell her we were in town, Anna appeared at our car

Anna is a tall, blonde and fair-complexioned woman of Scandinavian ancestry. She spends time between her apartment in Port Vendres and a home in the Pyrenees. To welcome us to Port Vendres, she personally guided us around the small business area showing us her favorite restaurants and wine merchant.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Wine merchant in Port Vendres

Afterwards, we set out for a night on the town.

Returning to our Airbnb “loft” to relax and sleep, we were there just in time to catch sight of the most glorious rainbow — surely a good omen for the next part of our adventure.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Rainbow photo by Arlene Wouters

Visiting Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Collioure

We had a full day planned in Collioure, so we started out early in the morning, giving ourselves just enough time to grab a cafe latte and croissant, and to check out the Saturday Market in Port Vendres.

Backtracking, we arrived in Collioure and parked Mustang Sally at a hilltop rest stop. When we got out of the car, we realized the “rest stop” was, indeed, the parking lot for a restaurant. We went into the restaurant, which was busy with staff preparing for lunch, and assured them we would return later for a meal–not just take a free parking spot.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Mustang Sally looking over Collioure

From here we were able to walk through most of the town, wade in the surf, and do a bit of shopping.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Seaside dining

Thinking the day couldn’t get any better, we headed back towards the restaurant on the hill. Oh my! What a treat. Port Vendres and Collioure, FranceThe entrance to the restaurant was near the top of the hill; but the service area was down a narrow, stone stairway that led to the sea. When we reached where tables were set, we literally stepped onto a yacht, or what appeared to be one because of the shape of the deck. From our table made us feel like we had set sail on a calm sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

The food? It was heavenly.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Mixed seafood- Collioure

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Tuna Collioure

And the wait staff? Well, one Golden Girl thought he was HOT. You judge for yourself.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

We told him he could drive Mustang Sally if we could adopt him.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Visiting Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Musee Collioure. The artist is in the house. Our lunch was long and leisurely with us all agreeing we are the “luckiest people in the world”. Still we had time to wander into the town’s art museum. The small space handsomely displayed a collection of French artists such as Claude Viallat , Joan Brossa , Dominique Gauthier, Henri Marre, Matisse, and Jean Peské.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Francois Bernadi

Our good fortune was that one of the area’s well-known artists, Francois Bernadi, was working in the museum that day. We introduced ourselves and he seemed as thrilled to meet us as we were to meet him. His exhibit, which spanned his career since 1945, had just been taken down to make room for the new show, but we did purchase posters which he proudly autographed with a personal message.

View at the top We had a flight to catch from the Girona airport, which was less than an hour away. Before leaving Collioure we drove to the highest spot in town. From top to bottom, high and low, this is a town that should be on every tour map. Love, love!

Photos: A big “thanks” to the Golden Girls for contributing some of the fab photos for this blog. We wanted to show you the best of the best! Next stop: Pisa, Italy

Next on the Golden Girls’ Tour: Pisa!

Port Vendres and Colliure, France

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 7-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Golden Girls on the Mediterranean side of France

Side trips from Uzes are now behind us. It’s time for the Golden Girls to hit the super highway and head for the Mediterranean coast of France.

Mediterranean side of France

The Mediterranean Side of France: Sete

The Venice of France
I couldn’t wait to show off Sete to my friends from North Carolina. After a week’s stay last year, I knew my beach-loving travel companions would like the place. Not only is the city itself of interest because of the canals, architecture, and fabulous seafood, also, the beaches outside the city are magnificent. We envisioned at least one full day in the sun being pampered by handsome waiters as we sunned ourselves at a private beach club.

Only one problem. Our days in Sete turned out to be cold and rainy.

Mediterranean side of France

Sete, France

Mediterranean side of France

Oh well, not to be disappointed because of the weather, we found plenty to do exploring Sete’s indoor market and nearby towns along the Mediterranean.

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

 

The Mediterranean Side of France: Bezier

Bezier is one of the oldest cities in France, tracing back to 535 BC. Only a few kilometers from the coast, Beziers was a Roman stronghold along the trade route from Provence to the Iberian Peninsula. It was the scene of a bloody massacre in the 13th century when Cathars, considered a heretic group by Catholics, were murdered — along with all other residents of the town– in a two hour battle. The leader of the crusade, when asked “how the warriors could tell Cathars from Catholics,” reportedly answered: “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” or “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

Today Beziers is well known for the “Feria”, a 5-day bullfighting festival that draws over a million spectators each year to the town’s ancient arena. Gothic architecture and stately English gardens, also, lure visitors to step back into the past.

Mediterranean side of France

Beziers, France

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

The Mediterranean side of France: Bouziques

Bouzigues, a beachside town beside the L’Etang de Thau is well known for its fresh seafood– especially oysters

Mediterranean side of France

Bouzigues, France

From the narrow street that runs through Bouzigues, you can see miles of oyster beds that stretch into the Mediterranean .

Oysters in L’Etang de Thau are grown on posts designed specifically for maximizing the crop yield.

 

Mediterranean side of France

Another attraction in Bouziques is the many seaside restaurants. On a rainy day, however, most were closed for afternoon business.

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

The Mediterranean side of France: Getting There

Mustang Sally is the red 1996 Ford Mustang I’ve been blessed to drive in France. She belongs to my dear friend, Geoffrey, who has been the star character in many of my blog posts.

When I first arrived to set up my new life in France, Geoffrey made an offer I couldn’t refuse. We arrived at a lease agreement for the red car with black racing stripes. Now Mustang Sally is living in the underground car park near my apartment. She’s raring to go at a moment’s notice.

The trip down to Sete was no exception. Packed to the brim with suitcases, bags and hats, Sally proudly provided more than transportation down the super highway and scenic roads for my Carolina guests, she was our “touch of class.” I mean, how else would passerbys know The Golden Girls were around? She stood as a beacon wherever we landed.

Mediterranean side of France

Along the highways she hit the 120 KPH speed limit with no hesitation. It was at the many toll booths along the way that she showed her one malady. The driver side window is stuck closed.

After one or two stops, my travel companions and I had the tollbooth routine down flat. Sally would roll up to the gate while I was unbuckling my seatbelt; the front seat passenger would ready the change for the toll; I’d stretch as far as my arms and legs would reach to insert a ticket into the machine to add up the fare; I’d feed the fare into the meter; slam the door; buckle the seatbelt; and we’d speed off before the car behind us could blow its horn in total frustration.

This scenario repeated for most of the two-hour drive to Sete. We went the quickest route, rather than drive on the back roads. Likewise, the stops at Beziers and Bouziques were easy turns-offs from the super highway.

The Mediterranean side of France: Where to stay in Sete

One of my favorite things about the visit to Sete was the Airbnb apartment. Right in the center of town, facing the main canal, the location would please my friends, I was certain. Yes, they were thrilled with the apartment with two private bedrooms and an amazing view, as I suspected. They clicked immediately with our host, Nancy, and soon we were feeling right at home.

Mediterranean side of France

To view the Airbnb listing, click here.

The Mediterranean side of France: What to eat in Sete

There’s only one good answer for what to eat in Sete: seafood! One of the most “productive” fishing areas on the Mediterranean, the town is particularly well known for oysters, sardines and tuna. Restaurants line the streets along the harbor and they seem to serve similar dishes.

Grabbing a plate of raw oysters at the city market, along with a glass of wine or beer, is a treat I was determined to give myself.

Mediterranean side of France

The idea of “raw” didn’t go so well with the other Golden Girls, but they did taste “tielle” which is a local delicacy– octopus pie.

Mediterranean side of France

Another specialty from Sete is fish soup. It is a tomato-based, heavy fish broth served in bowls like chowder.

Mediterranean side of France

The best part of the soup is the croutons that float on top. But before you set the croutons off to sail, you smother the crunchy bits of toast with garlicky aioli, and cover them with flaky Parmesan cheese.

Fish soup from Sete can be purchased online from sites like Bien Manger (click here)

Mediterranean side of France

Helpful hint: Wherever you go

When driving in an unfamiliar place, especially if you don’t know the language, be sure to take note of where you park. It’s easy to get lost if you’re as absent-minded as I am! To insure you get back to the right place, take pictures of your parking spot and direction signs along the way.

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

Next stop: Port Vendres and Collioure

Mediterranean side of France

Click here for more about the Golden Girls’ Tour of France and Italy

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont Du Gard, Avignon

Tracing the history of the Romans in the south of France is a fascination I am anxious to share with visitors.

Guests visiting from North Carolina were more than happy to take the short ride from Uzès to Nimes to attend the Roman Days extravaganza at the Arena. Even though the event was narrated only in French, we were able to understand the storyline. The anniversary of Augustus Caesar’s death was being celebrated by a reenactment of important events during his life.

On top of it being a beautifully sunny day in Nimes, the opportunity to step back into a time, nearly 2000 years ago, was extraordinary. It was particularly interesting to see the costumed actors roaming through the city before the event. (For more about Roman Days, click here to see the earlier posting.)

Roman Days in Nimes

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

 

 

 

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

 

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France: Pont du Gard

Tracing the Romans in France must include a visit to Pont du Gard.
Even though I’ve been to Pont du Gard four times, there’s no better place to take visitors who come to Uzes. The aqueduct that supplied water to the Romans in Nimes as early as 1AD is still a marvel to behold. Every time I round the bend along the walkway in the World Heritage park and see the magnificent structure, I get chills. Visiting during different times times of year makes it new each time to me.

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

School children at the highest point viewing Pont du Gard put this Golden Girl in her element.

The Romans in the south of France

Avignon, City of Popes.

An afternoon in Avignon is hardly enough time to get a fair impression of the historic city, much less to write a post. For the Golden Girls, it was a beautiful and convenient place to stop for dinner.

The Roman connection in Avignon is difficult to follow because most of the Roman ruins have disappeared. However, the Pope’s Palace, the UNESCO World Heritage–listed “Palais des Papes” reminds us that Avignon was once the center of the Roman Catholic world. It is a place that is definitely worth spending time to explore. The Palais des Papes was the residence of seven successive popes in the 14th century. Avignon’s control by the Papacy ended in 1791 when the city was claimed by France during the French Revolution.

I shall definitely research Avignon and write more later. Until then, enjoy the photos of our quick visit.

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

How to get there
From Uzes to Pont du Gard is a 30- minute car ride. Buses run regularly to the park area from the station in the center of Uzes, as well. To travel to Avignon, it is another 30 minute ride or drive.

Where to eat
The park at Pont du Gard is very well equipped with cafeteria-type restaurants and snack shops. The park itself is perfect for hiking and for finding places to stop for a picnic lunch.

In Avignon we had a quick meal before returning back to Uzes that night. Nothing to brag about.

Next: Sete to Collioure. Picture book towns along the Mediterranean

Romans in the South of France

Golden Girls’ Tour of France and Italy

Uzes, France July 14th

Uzes, France July 14th

Uzes, France July 14th

What’s  happening in Uzes, France on July 14th? I set out with my camera to see how the French celebrate in this small town. It’s all about family, food, dancing and fireworks. This year, it was also about brocante. A hundred or more brocante dealers showed off their best wares in the town’s parking lot — a beautiful spot overlooking the valley.

Uzes, France July 14th

Brocante in Uzes, France

Uzes, France July 14th

China, pottery, porcelain treasures galore.

Uzes, France July 14th

Colorful wares and colorful brocante dealers.

Uzes, France July 14th

El Toro for your man cave?

Uzes, France July 14th

Perfect gift or the man who has everything.

Uzes, France July 14th

Uzes, France July 14th

Every man’s junk is someone’s treasure.

Uzes, France July 14th cafes in town were packed with visitors, couples and families eating, drinking and enjoying their long weekend holiday.

Uzes, France July 14th

All waiting for the music and dancing …

Uzes, France July 14th

 And the fireworks.Uzes, France July 14th

Here are some interesting facts about the July 14th French holiday:

1-  French don’t call the holiday “Bastille Day”?

It’s called “July 14th”, just like “July 4th” in the States. The formal name is  La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration).

2- “Storming the Bastille” was not all about freeing political prisoners.

Rebels freed four crooks and two “lunatics” and, according to Wikipedia, one “deviant” aristocrat. The Bastille was chosen as the target of the rebellion because it was a symbol of the abusive monarchy — a place stocked with weapons and ammunition.

3- The French Revolution was not the beginning of an independent French republic.

The French Revolution of 1787 is considered by historians as a major step towards establishing the concept of “independent republics.” The world saw the uprising of the people of France as an example to create their own political change;

The French, however, were anything but “independent” afterwards. They enduring years of terror led by Roperpeare’s government; and later, a military empire led by Napolean.  It was the Third Republic in 1870 that gave way to national elections and political parties in France.

Charles de Gaulle founded the French Fifth Republic and served as its first president from 1959 to 1969.

 

Movie Night in Uzes: Il Trovatore

If you’ve  attended an HD production of the Metropolitan Opera in your local theatre, you know how good it is. You have the best seats possible to hear and see the performance without paying the big bucks to be in Lincoln Center. If you live in, or are visiting another country when there’s an HD opera production, there’s another dimension to the experience.

This weekend “Il Trovatore” played at the Cinema in Uzes. It was the second opera I’ve seen here. Last year, when mon fils was visiting, we saw “Carmen.” I missed him!

il trovadore

 

Anna Netrebko, the heroine Leonora who sacrifices her life for the love of the troubadour, was superb, as was Yonghoon Lee who played the role of Manrico.

2015-10-05_14-22-57But it was Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna who won our hearts. Prior to the beginning of the Met season, Hvorostovsky announced he had a brain tumor. He was never expected to perform again. Despite the seriousness of his illness, he was there, on stage, for a most magnificent portrayal of the Count. The closeups of his face, which cameras the HD audience captured, were able to show he knew millions of viewers were watching. For a few seconds he seemed to step out of his role to acknowledge the loud applause from the live viewers at the Met. You didn’t have to be there in person to feel the love and admiration.

The other dimension

The night’s experience for those attending in New York may have been wonderful, however, it couldn’t have been as interesting as in Uzes. The funky, retro cinema was packed with enthusiastic opera lovers and lots of champagne!

 

IMG_7385

It is France! 

Like last year, it seemed a bit bizarre.  An Italian opera, performed live in New York, broadcast live at a cinema in Uzes — with French subtitles —

Serving sushi!

Sushi at the Cinema in Uzes

Sushi at the Cinema in Uzes

 

Here’s a review of last year’s performance of “Carmen” and more views of the Uzes movie house.

femk14_15_900x900carmen_500x500

The opera and cast of Carmen

When last I heard music from “Carmen” I was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The Carolina Master Choral of the Grand Strand, as a fund-raiser, hosted a professional opera singer who performed a few of the most famous arias.

This “live” version of “Carmen,”  in HD from the Met,  was broadcast in the only cinema in Uzes. As I watched the performance, I was remembering Myrtle Beach and other times in my life when I’ve heard the music from “Carmen.” I also thought of the millions of people all over the world who were attending the HD event along with me at their local theaters. Isn’t technology amazing!??

People who have seen an HD version of the Met operas have said how wonderful it is. Now that I’ve been to one myself, I have to agree. It’s the next best thing to sitting in Lincoln Center.

 

The Cinema in Uzes

The only theater in Uzes is on a narrow street that runs into the main “rue” of town. From the outside the building looks like a theater straight out of a Woody Allen film.

Cinema in Uzes, France

Cinema in Uzes, France

 

The inside isn’t much different.

 Except at this cinema, there are “do-it-yourself” popcorn machines and bizarre candy machine.

Popcorn maker for "vanilla" flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for "salted" popcorn.

Popcorn maker for “vanilla” flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for “salted” popcorn.

 

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

 

Most interesting is that you can order a meal that is served during intermission.

 

Cinema - goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

Cinema – goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

 

The menu

 

Cheese and fruit plate

Cheese and fruit plate

 

Serving up soup and salad

Serving up soup and salad

 

Wine, beer, champagne and other drinks of your liking, of course.

 

The cinema bar

The cinema bar

 

The Met performance of “Carmen” was a unique experience. Now that I know that meals and drink are available for most nightly theater shows, I know I’ll be back! If you’re in Uzes, the Cinema is definitely a place you should check out. There are several films with English subtitles each week. Or if you’re trying to learn French, going to a show with French subtitles is an interesting way to practice reading the language.

Love Carmen! Love the Cinema!

 

10502437_788415777896797_3058996173419804088_n

The French “Ninth Art”: Bandes Dessinées

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The French love bandes dessinées — drawn cartoons.  We may call them  “funnies”  in the States  but here they take the art form quite seriously. 

The graphic style is recognized and debated by art historians in France as the “Ninth Art”  —  a category that ranks comic drawings along with poetry, architecture, painting and sculpture.

My first exposure to bandes dessinées (drawn strips) was at an exhibition in the Place De Herbes.

Art in UzesThinking it was a book signing that was drawing the crowd of people, young and old, I walked up to the tent set up in the plaza to get a closer look.

Strips of cartoons on single sheets of paper; comic books in soft and hard covers; and colorful posters were stacked in piles on the tables. Hard-bound books with CDs of George Brassens, Jacques Brel, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and other music icons were arranged in neat rows.

IMG_2516

Artists were busy selling and signing the books and comic strips to the enthusiastic shoppers.

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The artist that got my attention was Jose Correa.

Jose Correa

Jose Correa

He was seated at the end of one of the long tables, busy signing his work — with gusto. It was his art that was featured on the poster for the event, I learned.

“Ok,” says me to me as I walked to get in line to meet Correa. “I’ll get a poster and have it signed.” “Better, yet, ” says me, “I’ll  ask him to sign one of his CD books.”

Jose Correa

The CD set has music of Jacques Brel, the French singer who became famous during the time of Frank Sinatra. Brel is still a legend in France. The CD book has pages and pages of  cartoon drawings by Correa, along with his dialogue on the music.

Jacques Brel CD book

Jacques Brel CD book

 

Inside bande dessinee graphics, poetry and CDs

Inside bande dessinee graphics, poetry and CDs

Owning a CD with a personal message from the artist sparked my curiosity about bandes dessinées.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

“Bandes dessinée” is a type of art made popular in France and Belgian in the 19th century. Unlike “comic books”, the subject matter for bandes dessinées was not humorous. The “strips of paper” were more like graphic novels, occasionally penned by famous French artists. The drawings often raised public debate, similar to political cartoons. (See below for reference and more details.)

 "A family supper" from Caran d'Ache in le Figaro on February 14, 1898. The drawing depicts the divisions of French society during the Dreyfus Affair. At the top, somebody says "above all, let us not discuss the Dreyfus Affair!". At the bottom, the whole family is fighting, and the caption says "they have discussed it".

“A family supper” from Caran d’Ache in le Figaro on February 14, 1898. The drawing depicts the divisions of French society during the Dreyfus Affair. At the top, somebody says “above all, let us not discuss the Dreyfus Affair!”. At the bottom, the whole family is fighting, and the caption says “they have discussed it”. Wikipedia

In the 20th century the popularity of bandes dessinées grew rapidly as the drawings appeared in national papers and magazines. Themes were both serious and humorous. Cartoon characters and comic books from America flooded into Europe.

Le Journal de Mickey, based on Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, was published in France in 1934.

Le Journal de Mickey

Le Journal de Mickey

When War started, the Nazis occupying this part of Europe banned comics that came in from the US. Bandes dessinées artists in France and Belgium picked up the slack and finished many of the adventures of Superman and Flash Gordon. Since then, comics from the US have never been as popular with the French — replaced by the work of famous comic artists from around the world.

Some of the cartoon characters known in the US today originated in France.

Recognize this?

The Smurf characters originated in France.

The Smurf characters originated in France.

References: Thanks to Wikipedia for providing just enough information to make me dangerous!

Caran d’Ache the artist 

The Dreyfus Affair

‘Til next time 10247353_712774975446317_5694589719174608707_n

Stacey Kent Concert in Uzes

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There are a few musical events in my life that the Barefoot Blogger will always remember. The concert with Stacey Kent in the Cour du Duche high on the list.

A magnificent azure sky against the yellow haze of the Chateau du Duche and a soft summer breeze made the evening in Uzes seem heaven-sent. Add to that the clear, innocent voice of Stacey Kent, singing my favorite type of music — Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, aka Diana Krall and Melody Gardot. It was an experience that made me pinch myself several times during the performance to make certain I was not dreaming.

IMG_3174

Although I live only a few feet away from the Chateau du Duche, I had never been inside the courtyard. Guests are invited for special events and occasional tours.

 

Inside the Cour des Duche

Inside the Cour des Duche

 

The Cour des Duche

The Cour du Duche

 

The private Chapel

The private Chapel

 

 

Stain glass windows to the Chapel des Duche upclose.

Stain glass windows to the Chapel du Duche up close.

 

The stage set up inside the Cours des Duche

The stage set up inside the Cours du Duche

 

There was even a glimpse of the Duke and the family who were entertained from the balcony onto the Cour du Duche.

 

The family and the Duke

The family and the Duke

 

Isn’t it fun to see royalty up close and personal?

IMG_3181

Stacey Kent and her ensemble were casual and at ease with the mostly French audience. Stacey Kent is an American and conversed easily in French, telling the crowd about the music and her fellow musicians — especially her husband, the lead brass and wind artist.

 

 

IMG_3203

Stacey Kent in concert in Uzes

 

Stacey Kent

Stacey Kent

 

 

Jim Tomlinson, Stacey's husband and saxophonist extraordinaire.

Jim Tomlinson, Stacey’s husband and saxophonist extraordinaire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now sit back and enjoy the music of Stacey Kent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

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Somehow it seems strange to see a French opera, performed live in New York, broadcast live at a cinema in Uzes — with French subtitles.

It was truly a memorable event. Carmen and more. Not only was it the first time The Barefoot Blogger has seen the opera “Carmen” in full;  and the first time I’ve seen an HD performance by the Metropolitan femk14_15_900x900carmen_500x500Opera; but also, the first time I’ve attended a night-time cinema in Uzes.

 

The opera and cast

When last I heard music from “Carmen” I was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The Carolina Master Choral of the Grand Strand, as a fund-raiser, hosted a professional opera singer who performed a few of the most famous arias.

This “live” version of “Carmen,”  in HD from the Met,  was broadcast in the only cinema in Uzes. As I watched the performance, I was remembering Myrtle Beach and other times in my life when I’ve heard the music from “Carmen.” I also thought of the millions of people all over the world who were attending the HD event along with me at their local theaters. Isn’t technology amazing!??

People who have seen an HD version of the Met operas have said how wonderful it is. Now that I’ve been to one myself, I have to agree. It’s the next best thing to sitting in Lincoln Center.

 

The Cinema in Uzes

The only theater in Uzes is on a narrow street that runs into the main “rue” of town. From the outside the building looks like a theater straight out of a Woody Allen film.

Cinema in Uzes, France

Cinema in Uzes, France

 

The inside isn’t much different.

 Except at this cinema, there are “do-it-yourself” popcorn machines and bizarre candy machine.

Popcorn maker for "vanilla" flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for "salted" popcorn.

Popcorn maker for “vanilla” flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for “salted” popcorn.

 

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

 

Most interesting is that you can order a meal that is served during intermission.

 

Cinema - goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

Cinema – goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

 

The menu

 

Cheese and fruit plate

Cheese and fruit plate

 

Serving up soup and salad

Serving up soup and salad

 

Wine, beer, champagne and other drinks of your liking, of course.

 

The cinema bar

The cinema bar

 

The Met performance of “Carmen” was a unique experience. Now that I know that meals and drink are available for most nightly theater shows, I know I’ll be back! If you’re in Uzes, the Cinema is definitely a place you should check out. There are several films with English subtitles each week. Or if you’re trying to learn French, going to a show with French subtitles is an interesting way to practice reading the language.

Love Carmen! Love the Cinema!

 

10502437_788415777896797_3058996173419804088_n

city side of Nice

City Side of Nice: Favorite Finds

With all the cold, rainy weather in winter, I enjoy looking back at some of summer’s favorite places. Enjoy the city side of Nice and think about sunny days

Traveling to Nice to enjoy the beaches is always nice. However, don’t forget there’s a city side of Nice to explore, too.

In 1966 I traveled to Nice with two friends from UNC-Chapel Hill. It was a splurge on our “Europe on $5 a Day” budget. Nevertheless, we had to see the French Rivera. As I recall, it looked much like this.

city side of Nice

Nice France 1966

 

Take a look now.

city side of Nice

Nice France 2014

This was 1966.

city side of Nice

Beach in Nice 1966

Now.

city side of Nice

Nice France 2014

Then.

city side of Nice

Nice France 1966

Now.

city side of Nice

Nice France now

While much has changed, the spirit of the city seems the same. It is still the place where you feel you can “hide out.” No one seems to care what anyone else is doing. And there are so many people of different backgrounds, cultures and languages, there’s no telling who “belongs” there and who is a tourist.

The European architecture and neighborhoods of Nice remind me more of Italy than of France. I was reminded by my AIRBNB host that it’s not by accident. Nice was part of France until the mid-1800’s. It was again occupied by Italy during WWII.  (Guess I missed history class the day this factoid was taught.)

These are some of the city-side sights:

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 City Side of Nice Transportation

Getting around town in Nice is a breeze. If you aren’t up for walking, which is always a good way to sightsee and stop along the way, there are public buses and trams. For those who like to bicycle, you can rent by the hour or more.

 

City Side of Nice Restaurants

Unfortunately, I didn’t do my homework on places to eat in Nice. Nor do I have the budget to dine on expensive French cuisine. Consequently, all of my meals were disappointing … except for dinner at La Favola.

My friends and I discovered it after we had a so-so lunch at a sidewalk cafe. La Favola was the one with the people standing in line waiting for a table. That’s always a good sign. We made a point to go by the cafe for dinner.

city side of Nice

Restaurant in Nice

Here are two of the reasons why La Favola is popular. Lobster and pasta for the seafood lover. Gnocchi and Aubergine (eggplant) for the vegan.

We didn’t try the antipasta that was lusciously displayed on tables at the front of the restaurant. That’s for next trip. Any of the many choices is a meal in itself.

city side of Nice

Lobster with Rigatoni at La Favola in Nice

 

city side of Nice

Gnocchi with Aubergine at La Favoli in Nice

Here’s a link to La Favola’s website (click here) if you’d like to check it out.

If you arrive too early for dinner — before 7:00 pm — there are plenty of cafes and bars nearby. Some with entertainment and music like the Blues Brothers you’ll recognize.

city side of Nice

“Blues Brothers” in Nice, France

Room with a View

Again, I was pleased with my AIRBNB choice in Nice. While my friends had booked rooms not knowing I was definitely joining them, I was looking at the last-minute for a place that would be close to where they were staying. It was a holiday weekend in France, so I was fortunate to find a place … and such a good find.

The hosts were friendly and extremely helpful with touring suggestions. I felt like I was a welcomed guest and friend. Since I’m now living in France — a mere three hour drive or train ride from Nice, I’ll definitely be back.

These are some of the views from my private room and a link to the “Chambre sur Jardin” on AIRBNB.

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City Side of Nice Markets

There are many market days in Nice and I made it to one — the flower market. The brocante (antique, etc.) market is next on my list when I return to Nice again.  This is a list for your trip (click here). Maybe I’ll see you there!

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 Nice is for Dog Lovers

Since moving to France, I’ve discovered the French love their dogs. It’s not uncommon to find a “chien” in restaurants sitting at the table. If you look carefully at the diners at a sidewalk cafe, there’s often a pet at the patron’s feet. Waiters always accommodate the furry companion with a bowl of water.

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Ready to relax?

When you get tired of city sites, you can always sit by the sea … the Mediterranean, that is.

city side of Nice

Nice France


For more tips on traveling to Nice and other destinations in France, here are some ideas from Your RV Lifestyle. 100 Things to do in France. A great resource!

 

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Shopping Finds in San Quentin la Poterie

Shopping Finds in San Quentin la Poterie

No matter how many times I visit the villages near Uzes, I find something new and irresistible.

My destination was San Quentin la Poterie — the home of some of the most amazing potters in all of France.

This time, I did find a pottery shop I’ve never seen before …

….but it was a little out-of-the-way gift shop that was a real gem.

san quentin la poterie

L’Effet Reve in San Quentin de la Poterie

From the outside, the shop was quite unassuming. In fact, I almost passed it by. The promise of tea and pastries advertised in the window, however, drew me in.

At first glance, the store looked like so many you see in the States, filled with little nick nacks and kitchenware. It was not until I wandered into the rooms hidden in the back that I discovered the true treasures.

san quentin la poterie

Inside L’Effet Reve in San Quentin la Poterie

san quentin la poterie

Yes, this petite iron sofa would be perfect in my apartment! Oh drool!

san quentin la poterie

Too bad I was penny-pinching that day, or I would have fit it in the back trunk of my car, “Lucy.”

Beyond the little rooms and cubby holes in L’Effet Reve, was the pièce de résistance — a charming outdoor tea room…

san quentin la poterie

Outdoor tea room

… decorated to delightful perfection.

san quentin la poterie

Shopping Finds in San Quentin la Poterie

Little villages near Uzes

Sometimes the little places close to Uzes never make it to the tourist lists. Yet they can be the most charming places of all.

Here are more sights and scenes that make San Quentin la Poterie so much fun to visit.

san quentin la poterie

Little rooms that stretch over arched walkways

 

san quentin la poterie

Mosaics along the street in San Quentin de la Poterie

 

san quentin la poterie

Narrow, colorful walkways in San Quentin la Poterie

 

san quentin la poterie

Little ladies shelling and selling almonds along the street

 

san quentin la poterie

Art and artists everywhere

 

And pottery !!!

Hopefully you enjoyed this pictorial visit to San Quentin la Poterie. Be certain to put this little village on your “must see” when you visit the south of France.

Other views of the town are in several earlier posts. Just search “San Quentin la Poterie” on the “My Travels” page.

Oh… by the way… don’t try to beat me to it.  I’m calling tomorrow to see if the little sofa is still waiting for me!

san quentin la poterie

Travel Diary for Foodies

Travel Diary for Foodies
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There’s no better way for a “foodie” to recap a year’s travel than to revisit meals and favorite foods devoured along the way.

Enjoy the journey!

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Christmas Market, Uzes

Chicken Stewing at Christmas Market, Uzes

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Meat Pies, London, England

Meat Pies, London, England

Fruit Tray for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fruit Tray for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Wine! France!

Wine! France!

Garlic! L'Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Garlic! L’Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Ham Biscuits for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Ham Biscuits for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Punch with Fruit Ring, "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Punch with Fruit Ring, “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

"Four Seasons" Pizza in Uzes, France

“Four Seasons” Pizza in Uzes, France

"Bouchon de Lyonaisse" Salad in Lyon, France

“Bouchon de Lyonaisse” Salad in Lyon, France

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists' Fete in Uzes, France

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists’ Fete in Uzes, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Brioche with Caramel Glace

Brioche with Caramel Glace in Lyon, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

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O, Come Let Us Adorn Thee

The Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques 

Over the past few years I’ve had the blessing to travel to some of the most religious places in the world. One of the most impressive things I’ve learned is that, regardless of the religion, followers adorn their places of worship in much the same way. Enjoy some of the brilliant churches, temples and mosques of France, Scotland, Turkey and Nepal and embrace the similarities they share.

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Istanbul, Turkey

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Uzes, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Istanbul, Turkey

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Pisa, Italy

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Nepal

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Istanbul, Turkey

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Avignon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Kathmandu, Nepal

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Rome, Italy

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Strasbourg, France

 

 

 

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